St Swithin’s Grave

St Swithin’s Grave


Six-foot when standing – St Swithin of the Venta,

His coffin now cracked, clumsily in thirds.

A pious life’s promise, plundered through worship,

Adoration, respect and a relic’s protection

Disinterred from the churchyard – last requests unheard.


Deep in December dark waters rise.

The quiet Bishop quickened from his forsaken rest –

Colourless and cold, the coffin takes float

Below Romanesque vaults and cold rows of pews.

His ship’s short voyage (strange port in a storm).


No rain god required:  in rage, Swithin swore

Forty days of rain for veneration’s sin

From Saxonic skies, sharp and unforgiving.

Now the English examine each and every word

Putting ink on velum, promising peace.


In the Cathedral square, Christmas shoppers

Feel the first spots of falling rain.


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